Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Solar Advantages

Equipment.  Solar just purchased a brand new digital 6 (Sony) camera system used by the NBA to cover the games.  The system can take in as much as 12 cameras  and is capable of capturing slow motion in all cameras as opposed to only 1 slomo camera used in all of today's local coverages.  It also will have the inscriber graphic system which is the same they use in the U.S. basketball coverages.  The Sony digital cameras should also improve the clarity of signal when watched on television.

Studio 23 will most likely use the same equipment they use for the UAAP, which is the same used for the MBA.  That system is about 10 years old and although it is adequate, a lot of innovations have happened the last decade since.

A new LED system will also be installed to upgrade the current system on court being used by ABC5.  Animations and other new features will now be available for the a better and more exciting coverage.

So the graphics, clarity, and other capabilities will be the best in the country if the PBA chooses Solar.  The PBA deserves only the best and they will get it. 

Experience.  Solar has a proven sales team that can generate the revenues.  It is composed of many sales people from Vintage who generated the most tv sales for the league in its history.  The sales and marketing team also has experience from companies like ABS-CBN, GMA7, Globe Telecom, San Miguel Corporation, Ayala Corporation, Nike Philippines and MTV.  I, for one have also worked for the PBA knowing a lot of the needs of the league on how to improve things.  I also have experience working for 3 of the top 10 corporations in the country (San Miguel, Ayala Corp, ABS-CBN) so learnings from that can add to making the partnership successful.  

The Solar team also has worked closely with the NBA visiting their studios in New Jersey and has attended many NBA world class events like the NBA Allstar games and Finals where learnings can be transferred to the PBA.  The experience with working with the biggest basketball league in the world is invaluable.

As far as production goes, many from the current team came from Vintage and ABS-CBN as well.  So whether in front or behind the camera, the PBA will get the most experienced and talented crew for the games.  Production talent is not exclusive to any one network.  The best people want to work for the best properties and Solar will hire the best for the PBA.  The Solar team from production to marketing to sales to programming has as much experience if not more when it comes to sports broadcasting compared to other groups out there.

More Reasons to Choose Solar

I forwarded most of what I've written to Quinito Henson and he's agreed to publish most of this stuff on his column for the Philippines Star.  I'm adding two more reasons for this post.

Timeslot.  ABS wants to play the games on Sunday morning so they can show it on channel 2.  Although this might be something different and even worth trying, nobody will want to watch a regular PBA game live at the venue on Sunday morning.  If a big boxing event like the "Invasion" promoted through the ABS media machinery can only draw 5,000, which is about the average attendance of the PBA, it will be considerably less for a regular PBA game.  A Pacquiao fight is a 2-3 times a year event.  Having PBA games on Sunday mornings on a regular basis will not get people to skip church and family lunches on Sundays.

Solar has a solid blocktime agreement with RPN 9 which gives the outfit the flexibility to air the PBA games so all games will be given priority on the channel to ensure the exposure for the teams.  All games will also be replayed on Basketball TV.

Positioning.  Solar presented a very compelling re-positioning plan for the league and its coverage based on experience and the current situation in the market.  It is a complete makeover and change from how the current coverage was being handled.  It is the kind of out of the box thinking that can give the league a boost in popularity using principles from recent bestsellers like "The Tipping Point" and "The Long Tail".  It goes beyond showbiz cross promotions and a morning time slot.  It touches on "social epidemics" and how the PBA has to attract the select few who influence the lives and mold perceptions of the masses. Solar will bring class back to the league and attract all social classes again, not just the lower class.   (one more post on this topic after this).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cross Promotions

This is the second in a series of posts on reasons why the board practically unanimously voted for Solar vs ABS-CBN.

Promotions.  ABS-CBN's supposed strong suit is their ability to cross promote across their media platforms.  I think many don't realize that Solar also operates 3 free to air (1VHF, 2 UHF) channels and 3 cable channels.  The ability to cross promote on ETC, 2nd Ave., Solar Sports, Basketball TV, and Jack TV along with the live showings on RPN Channel 9 is still pretty powerful.  Each channel cuts across different demographics and can really expand the base of PBA fans.  Based on agency negotiation rates, Solar offered over Php 200M worth of cross promotions spread across its 6 channels.

BTV and Solar Sports are still by far the two highest rated sports channels in the country and both cater to the core fans of the league.  BTV is also the perfect venue for replays of the games and additional footage outside of the games like press conferences, practices, and events.  Solar has proven that they can promote sports with the NBA, World Class Boxing, Poker, Mixed Martial Arts, the World Cup, PGA Golf and now the Olympics reaching their pinnacle of awareness because of the network's efforts.  

Outside of the UAAP basketball games, Studio 23 really has NOT succeeded in its sports promotions with properties like the PBL and the MBA games failing to get the desired results despite utilizing the full media machinery of ABS-CBN.  Mixing showbizness and sports doesn't always work as the PBA found out in the coverage before ABC5 took over during the VIVA days.  The UAAP popularity is as much a result of Ateneo becoming a contender as the promotions of ABS-CBN.  The UAAP was already selling out ADMU-DLSU and Final Four games before ABS started their coverage.  The fact ADMU-DLSU was also a final four or finals matchup helped incredibly.  When DLSU was suspended two years ago, revenues and attendance and ratings went down for Studio 23 despite the supposed cross promotions.  I don't have access to ratings from the 90's but I have a feeling the ratings back then when Silverstar was covering it, was not that far from  the ratings now.

Solar has proven it can build sports properties and make it bigger and better than it was before the network came into the picture.  The popularity of Solar properties are at an all time high with the NBA, PGA Golf, Boxing, Poker, MMA, Soccer (World Cup), and even the smaller leagues and sports. (more reasons to come)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The PBA Chooses Solar!

There has been a lot of speculation circulating with regard to who should get the TV rights for the PBA.  Now that Solar was given the priviledge, I am posting some elements of the presentation for many to appreciate why the board decided Solar. 

In my opinion, the process was already questionable with ABS-CBN being given an exclusive window to deal with the PBA.  This is why ABC5 pulled out noticing the inherent advantage of being able to negotiate exclusively.

Reach & Ratings.  This in my opinion was the biggest concern of the board.  There is an erroneous perception that Studio 23 rates higher than most channels outside 2 and 7.  Solar used actual AGB Nielsen ratings from the last 3 years which showed that RPN has better reach and ratings than Studio 23.  Overall, GMA is the clear leader with ABS in 2nd place.  QTV is in 3rd while ABC and RPN have been contesting the 4th spot all year.  Studio 23 at the time of the presentation was actually in 7th place behind the combination of all cable channels.  The latest numbers from early May had RPN in 4th place with the NBA playoffs in full swing and Studio 23 still in 7th behind the combination of all cable channels.

The board commissioned AC Nielsen to do a study in reach.  RPN was ahead of Studio 23 in Megamanila while the opposite was true in the provinces.  But overall combined, RPN was higher.  In fact, based on the surveys, Studio 23 reach in Megamanila was lower than ALL the VHF channels ABC, NBN, ABC, RPN, IBC, QTV and of course ch2 and ch7.  It was a glaring advantage that made a difference in actual reach and ratings.  The PBA also asked Mindshare, one of biggest and most respected media agencies in the world with brands like Ford, Gatorade, and Nike in their fold.  They are also the media planning agency of of Smart Communications, one of the PBA teams.  The agency overwhelmingly recommended RPN 9 over studio 23 based on their projections and data (also from AGB Nielsen).

The most convincing statistic on ratings was when Solar showed actual ratings of the one program that was shown on both RPN and Studio 23, which were the PBL games.  Ratings for the the PBL Finals in 2007 (on Ch9) more than doubled that of the the PBL Finals in 2006 (on St23).  Same program.  Different Channels.  Twice the ratings.  

Another erroneous perception that had to be dispelled by actual data was that the UAAP games rated higher than PBA or even NBA.  Actual UAAP average ratings on Studio 23 were only 1/3 that of PBA on ABC, and 1/2 of NBA on RPN.  In fact, even the cheering competition rated higher than the actual UAAP finals.  Even the boxing matches shown on Studio 23 rated lower than those that were shown on RPN.  Among sports programs, the RPN boxing slots rated the highest (outside of the Pacman fights which were even higher), followed by the PBA games on ABC, then the NBA games on RPN.   So the UAAP, even with all the cross promotions, has never even come close to rating better than the NBA and the PBA.

So until the time ABS-CBN decides to put all the games live on Channel 2, RPN was the better network vs Studio 23 for reach and ratings based on AGB Nielsen data.   (more reasons in the next few days)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

ABS-CBN Pulls Out

ABS-CBN after having exclusive negotiations with the PBA for two months, withdrew its bid for the broadcast rights of the most popular league in the country.  The reason given was that although they were able to agree on many issues, there were a few that were non negotiable so the big network decided it wasn't worth it.

Reports from news articles state that the board had already decided and in fact had an overwhelming 8-1 vote.  Purefoods even requested to have their vote counted for this matter as they also strongly felt Solar was a better choice to make it 9-1.  So with everything moot and academic, ABS-CBN decided to pull out before an official statement was made by the PBA.  Third party groups also recommended Solar over the giant network for reasons only the board would know right now.

Whatever the reason for the pullout, Solar now has an excellent chance in getting the nod on Tuesday when the board convenes again about the matter.  Being the one who put together the presentation, I certainly believe Solar's bid was compelling with or without the pullout.  If the PBA does decide to award the rights to Solar, I will post some of the bid details here so everyone can appreciate the strength of the proposal.  It seems practically all the board members saw the merits of what was presented by Solar compared to Studio 23.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The chances were at 1.7 percent.  It was about the same percentage as the chances of the Bulls to make the playoffs this year (at least that what it seemed like).  The lottery was installed so that teams would stop tanking games at the end of the season just to get a better draft position.  So the worst team doesn't always get the number 1 pick.

The Bulls were not the worst team this season.  But over 2/3 of the league was better.  The NBA Draft Lottery worked its magic for Chicago and harnessed 1.7% worth of luck to land what could be another turning point in franchise history.  They didn't deserve the luck after all the bonehead decisions post Jordan era.  Now choosing either Beasley or Rose has a 1.7% chance of not helping the Bulls back into the playoffs.  That 1.7% also immediately increased season attendance and revenue by $1.7M within 1.7 minutes.  The off season just got 1.7 times more fun for Chicago fans.  Ok, I'll stop now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Respect or Ratings?

Almost 2 months ago, about 2 weeks before the NBA Playoffs started, my cousin Nix asked me if anyone can beat the Boston Celtics this season.  I was adamant in saying that the Spurs are still the team to beat no matter what the regular season records say.  

Alas, after Praising San Antonio to high heavens, the defending champs got blown out by Phoenix and struggled going into the post season.  I'm not sure if it was their poor performance going into the playoffs, or if it was the nagging injuries that still existed with their superstars, or even the fact that Phoenix seemed to focus all their efforts only to beat the Spurs all season long, but I actually picked Duncan and company to lose in the first round to the Suns.

For those who have played with and against me, they would vouch for the fact that I am not flashy and I love playing using the most basic fundamentals.  It's mostly because I don't have a lot of talent to begin with and it's the only way I can be most effective.  Which is why deep down, I do appreciate San Antonio's game.

But on the surface, I am still a marketing guy and the continued success of the Spurs in not helping the interest level for the league!  The pick and roll, the turn around bank shot off the post, and the drive and dish for the three are all plays purists love to watch.  But how many purists are out there?  These guys (yes all guys) would watch anyway whether the game is fundamental or not.  Everyone else prefers the high flying 360 slam dunk, or the no look ally-oop pass, or "the hang in the air until your defender lands before you shoot" shots.  

Last year's finals was one of the lowest rated ever in the history of the league.  I can't help but think that it's because fundamental (Duncan) dominated excitement (James).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fly to Beijing to Watch Olympics Live!

Just watch Solar Sports and the other Solar channels: BTV, ETC, Jack, 2nd Ave., and C/S for the Watch, Win, and Fly promotional plug to get a chance to win a trip with tickets to watch the Beijing Olympics.  You just have to download the logos for the different Olympic sports.  The more logos downloaded, the better the chances of winning.

You can also just text OLY to 2600 for more information.

Identical Bids?

Beth Celis came out with an article last week stating that Solar and ABS-CBN's bid for the PBA rights were identical according to her sources.  Ronnie Nathanieslz also reiterated the point and even said that he spoke with Ricky Vargas, the TNT governor who said there was no other choice but Studio 23.  Unless there is some sort of ESP power going on, it is highly unlikely that both bids are even close.  Each had different resources and strengths to offer.

First off, there was never really any terms of reference distributed to potential bidders.  ABS-CBN had a exclusive window of about 2 months after which all the others were given 2 days to come up with their proposal.  At least on Solar's end, since there were no terms of reference and no luxury of multiple meetings to negotiate, it was a one shot deal hoping that the offer was satisfactory.  

All I can say right now is that Solar's bid was put together based on my experience as an ABS-CBN talent/producer, PBA Marketing Head, ABC 5 talent, and now Solar Marketing Head.  All the learnings on how to reposition the league, and make it more relevant to our times were included.  May 19 is the day the board decides.  I'm certainly hoping the PBA will choose C/S Sports. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Closing Windows

Over a week of no internet access has kept me from updating the blog so if anyone does read these entries, my apologies.

The second round of the NBA season is in full swing and most of my first round predictions did happen.  The only "miss" I had was Phoenix who I thought would finally get past the Spurs.  The only other surprise for me was the strong resistance from Atlanta to push their series to a 7th game.  

I guess the question now is what to do with the Suns and the Mavs who both were elite teams in the last few years but now seems to have missed their windows of opportunity.  For the Suns, Shaq is just too old to keep up for 4 quarters coupled with the worse free throw shooting in the league and Nash's defense really becomes a detriment in the playoffs.  As far as Dallas is concerned, Jason Kidd just seems out of place while having that enforcer in the middle is missing to stop penetration against opponents.

Being an elite team is a fragile thing.  Sacramento (Webber), Utah (Malone), Phoenix (Barkely), New Jersey (Kidd), Portland (Drexler) and Seattle (Payton) all had teams good enough to win in the past 15 years or so.  A key play or loss here and there made the difference in having a winning legacy for the players of those teams.  You can now add Nash's Suns and Dirk's Mavs to that list.

Here's hoping Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Lebron James doesn't suffer the same fate.